Category Archives: Podcasts 2019

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 16-23 April 2019

background_briefingBackground Briefing (ABC). Alex Mann and Background Briefing are doing us all a service by keeping an eye on the Far Right here in Australia and its attempts to infiltrate mainstream politics. Last year they brought us Haircuts and Hate: the rise of Australia’s Alt-Right and now they’ve produced Shitposting to the Senate: How the alt-right infiltrated Parliament. When Fraser Anning starts spewing his bile, we’d better be careful how we react because we may well be playing right into their hands.

The Drawing Room (ABC) I’m not that keen on Patricia Karvelas, and so I don’t often listen to this program. But I just finished reading Jill Giese’s excellent The Maddest Place on Earth and in this segment, Giese is talking about the book with Karvelas.

Giese’s book fascinated me so much that I decided to seek out more about The Vagabond, whom she cites at length. Earshot has a good program about him as one of the very early undercover journalists called “The Vagabond: Digging the Dirt on Melbourne“. As part of their discussion, they go to visit contemporary non-fiction writer Helen Garner, who is impressed with The Vagabond’s keen observational skills and writing style.

Big Ideas. A friend of mine mentioned that they heard a woman speaking on Radio National with enthusiasm and knowledge about Australia’s electoral system. “Ah!” I thought,  “that would be Judith Brett!”, and it was. Recorded at the Avid Reader,  “How Australia got its unique system of voting and elections” is based on Brett’s new book From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage.

Podcast: Blue Lake – Finding Dudley Flats

The History Listen on ABC RN has a good podcast based on David Sornig’s excellent book Blue Lake which I reviewed here late last year. This podcast doesn’t so much re-tell the story as bounce off it creatively, and it’s well worth a listen.

And to see an amazing clear photo of the lake from 1869, check out the ABC RN History Listen webpage about the program.

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 1-7 April 2019

256px-Kibera_slum_Nairobi_Kenya_01BBC Documentary Podcast. When my son was living in Nairobi, just a few blocks away was Kibera, a huge urban slum, completely self-contained with its own internal economy but no water, drainage and intermittent electricity. This documentary The Slumlords of Nairobi looks at the failure of policy and governance that makes this an almost intractable problem.

chaninSaturday Extra In this short episode, The Story of Australia House, Geraldine Doogue interviews Eileen Chanin, the author of Capital Designs: Australia House and Visions of an Imperial London. She talks about the way that the newly-federated Australia felt that it needed a presence in London to reassure investors after the 1890s Depression and the act of Federation itself. Meanwhile, London itself was repositioning itself as one of Europe’s great cities, and the presence of grand houses on the Strand was part of London’s own image-making.  I’ve been to Australia House- we went there to vote for Kevin 07 more than ten years ago.

This week it is the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Geraldine Doogue spoke with former US ambassador at large for war crimes issues Stephen Rapp, who organized the prosecutions after the genocide, most particularly the Media Trial of the radio stations that contributed to the slaughter. And in her interview with Arthur Asiimwe, the Director General of the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, she discusses with him how radio, in particular, can contribute to the 25th anniversary reflections. (If you’re interested in seeing my impressions of Rwanda, I wrote about it in my travel blog)

caliphateCaliphate. With governments around the world faced with the dilemma of what to do with the women and children of ISIS fighters in Syrian refugee camps, it seemed a good time to finish listening to the Caliphate podcasts that I’d started listening to months ago. I took up again at Chapter Seven where they talk about the fall of Mosul – quite a strange experience to listen to this while travelling on a train into the city, trying to imagine Melbourne reduced to an unrecognizable rubble. Chapter 9 was confronting, where they interviewed Yazidi girls taken as sex slaves. Then Chapter 10 where they return to a Canadian ISIS recruit who has returned back to Canada, albeit under surveillance, but seems just as radical as he had been when he went to join ISIS a few years earlier. Makes a blithe “Bring the women and children home” rather problematic, I think, given that these Australian women consciously chose to go there. Anyway- if you’re going to listen to this series, now is probably a good time.

Duolingo. Are the Duolingo podcasts getting easier or is my Spanish getting better? I listened to Antártida (Antartica), but it wasn’t very interesting. La nana (The Nanny) was about a Chilean journalist who dreamed of living in Paris and working as a journalist. But when she got there, she realized that rental prices were so high that the only way that she could live in central Paris was to work as a nanny. And so, she joined the numbers of international nannies who work in Paris, poorly-paid and often exploited, but very committed to the children in their care. Made me think of the film Roma, in a different context.

Espanolistos.  As readers of my other travel blog The Land of Increasing Sunshine will know, I went to Colombia for a week in February with Andrea and Nate from Spanishlandschool, where I did a (very!) intensive online course last year. Espanolistos is a fairly low-tech podcast where they just talk for about half an hour. It’s all in Spanish from start to finish, at intermediate level, and you can download a transcript (after episode 20)  if you get lost. I started with their Introductory Episode, then listened to Episode 1 ‘ Differences Between Colombia and the United States‘ . Andrea is from Colombia (hence the focus on Colombia in the podcasts) and her husband Nate is from Texas USA, and it’s reassuring to hear fluent but still not-perfect Spanish.

I hear with my little ear: podcasts 24-31 March  Ah! The Mexican Revolution is finished at last. In the final episode, Mike Duncan explains that when he first had the idea of looking at revolutions, it was the Mexican Revolution that he had in mind, even though he actually dealt with several other revolutions (French, Bolivarian, 1848 etc) before he got round to Mexico. It took him 27 episodes, and he found it hard to decide when exactly the revolution finished because it didn’t quite fit the trajectory of many of the other revolutions he has dealt with. Anyway, Zapata is dead but his ideas live on; Pancho Villa is dead; it all becomes rather respectable….. and so Mike moves on to the Russian Revolution in May after a very well-deserved rest.

Conversations.(ABC) Where has Richard Fidler gone? Oh well, Hamish Macdonald is a perfectly good replacement. It was a pleasure to listen to Anton Enus’ modulated tones as he spoke about his childhood in South Africa as the ‘Cape Coloured’ son of a wrestling legend ‘The Masked Marvel’.

BBC World Documentary Podcasts. I often listen to BBC World News when I wake up in the middle of the night. They advertise their documentaries, but I’d never bothered to look for them by light of day. But they’re all here- and they’re fantastic. Sweeping the World is a poetic reflection on the act of sweeping, as it plays out across the world.  I remember when I stayed with my son in Nairobi, you could hear the sound of the housemaids sweeping the carpark outside, crouched over with a small stick broom, one hand behind their back. My former mother-in-law used to love sweeping, starting from one end of the big garden and sweeping right through to the gutter at the front. This podcast talks about sweeping in third-world countries, the role of the broom in the depiction of witchcraft, and historical brooms kept in museums.

The Minefield (ABC) Waleed Aly has received more exposure in the last fortnight after the Christchurch massacre than he’s probably ever had in his life. (For readers overseas, here is the clip from The Project that I’m referring to)

Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens present The Minefield every week on Radio National, and the podcast version has an additional twenty-odd minutes of the program. They take a current topic and complicate it no end and add words like ‘epistemological’ and ‘ontological’. I can’t decide whether I really enjoy the show or whether I just find it pretentious. But two very good episodes here: the first, after Christchurch, asks “What Does the Christchurch Shooting Demand of Us?” and the second “Why does antisemitism cut across the political spectrum?”, featuring Deborah Lipstadt (the subject of the film Denial – available on SBS On Demand [only in Australia])

I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 8-15 March

After a long break while I was away in South America, I’m back to my routine again, which means a couple of long walks each week and time to listen to podcasts.  We’re still going with the Mexican Revolution, which I did at uni. back in the mid1970s. I must confess that I’d forgotten most of what I learnt then, but in Episode 9.16 The Legend of Pancho Villa , good old Pancho Villa in his big hat comes back onto the scene – him I DO remember. And then he teams up with Emiliano Zapata (who I also remember), then the US invades Veracruz, then they swap their loyalites; and then allies fall out and start fighting each other etc. etc. I’ve decided that I need to listen to this podcast with a little more dedication, as I keep forgetting what has happened in the last episode, and now I’m up to Episode 9.20 The Guns of Veracruz, where Pancho Villa starts making mistakes.

Caliphate.  I don’t know- all these podcasts where the researcher/podcaster talks about the process of tracking down, interviewing, verifying…it’s all been done before. Although, I do acknowledge that this podcast series was released some time ago, so I’m coming to it late. But I don’t know…I’m wanting something a bit different. Still, these episodes are good to remind us of the grand plans behind the caliphate, and the cold-bloodedness of their attempt to get there. I’m up to Chapter Six: The Paper Trail.

The Pamphlet  One of the liberating things about podcasting is that it is relatively cheap to do, and you can listen in to people whom you would otherwise never have heard. As any of you who’ve followed me for a while might know, I am a Unitarian Universalist and attend a small fellowship here in Melbourne. The Pamphlet is presented by two American UUs and is very low-tech and very American-UU-centric. You won’t find any of the production values in ‘Caliphate’ here! But in a two-parter (extended to 3 parts now, I see), they try to track down when the ‘Flaming Chalice’, a symbol used on most UU websites (including ours here in Melbourne), actually became a real, physical object that you could find in a UU service. Their first foray (The Chalice Capers 1) led them to a dead-end when it seemed that the chalice was just a spoof, and the second exploration (The Chalice Capers 2)  also raised more questions than it answered.

99% Invisible is a podcast by Roman Mars about design and architecture. In Episode 340 The Secret Lives of Colour, they talk  with Kassia St Claire who has written a book of that name. I’ve been deluging my husband with “Did you know…..” facts ever since.

Duolingo Podcasts. Ah! Was this one easier than the others, or have I improved in my Spanish listening comprehension?! Aventuras con mi padre is about a young girl whose father takes the family on ‘adventures’ to places in Venezuela (before it all went wrong).

I hear with my little ear: podcasts to 31 Jan 2019

I usually listen to podcasts while I’m walking down to the Heidelberg Historical Society museum on a Monday and/or Thursday, or when walking to Watsonia Library for a Spanish conversation class. (Nearly) everything stops in Australia during the first weeks of January, so I’m only just gradually picking up my usual routine again. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to:

News in Slow Spanish Latino  I listen to this in bites of three stories at a time which is about as much Spanish as I can cope with in one session. Episode #293  had an interesting commentary about the Mexican film ‘Roma’, which has been recognized in several industry awards, and slated for others. Apparently when Netflix showed it in Spain, they subtitled it – even though it’s in Spanish! Not the hard-of-hearing type subtitles, but the hard-copy foreign language ones. Unsurprisingly, this caused quite a bit of offence in Latin America. [Having said this, I often feel that I need subtitles for films from Scotland] To add to the transgression, they used ‘Mother’ instead of ‘Mum’ (rough translation), and substituted the name of a Mexican lolly with a Spanish one. There was such controversy, that Netflix dropped the subtitles.

Rough Translation.  War Poems is an absolutely fantastic episode about two translators working in Afghanistan as the United States flailed around in its policy on engagement with the Afghani population. But it’s about more than this. It had me crying in the train, then telling a total stranger about it. It’s really good.

Presidential. Abraham Lincoln: His hand and his pen. I borrowed ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’ from the library, but didn’t get round to reading this. I had downloaded it to listen to before I read the book because I really know nothing about Abraham Lincoln. I do now. It’s about Lincoln’s love of language in his own writing and in his oratory.

History Hub. While I was on an Abraham Lincoln kick, I also listened to the five- part ‘  series ‘Abraham Lincoln: The Life and Death of a Statesman‘, presented by Brian Schoen.

In Our Time. I must say that Melvyn Bragg is becoming more and more curmudgeonly the older he gets, particularly with women guests I think.  I listened to an interesting podcast about the 12th Century Renaissance, when the Crusades brought Arabic learning to Europe and universities began to be established. In the episode on Anna Akhmotova, I just wanted to give Melvyn a good hard kick.

Caliphate. I know that I’m probably the last person in the world to tune into Caliphate, but I’ve finally started listening to this series about how ISIS recruits and exploits its followers. Rukmini Callimachi, who covers terrorism for The New York Times, is the main presenter in this NPR-y-sounding podcast. I’ve listened to the first two and a half episodes.

Duolingo podcasts Episode 18: La testigo (the witness) is about a young Argentinian girl who inadvertently witnesses the Argentinian dictatorship during the 1970s. If you don’t understand Spanish, you’ll still be able to follow the story, and there’s a transcript as well.

Earshot (ABCRN) Related to the Duolingo podcast was this week’s Earshot program Argentina’s stolen generation, about the ongoing discovery, 40 years later, of the children affected in different ways by the ‘dirty war’ in Argentina in the 1970s, both as children of the ‘disappeared’ and as children of the perpetrators.

99% Invisible. I haven’t seen ‘The Green Book’ film yet, but this podcast called The Green Book Redux is about the original Green Book and how and why it came to be written. It finishes with an excerpt from ‘The Memory Palace’, another podcast I must check out.